Interesting new in-store exhibit going up at Wabi Sabi Home
in Mount Pleasant, SC. It's installing this weekend and will run through end of summer. Artist meet & greet on August 24th (or 25th? Stay tuned).The exhibit features work that illustrates the daily rituals, happy moments, trials and environments of Southern women. (Though I can't think of anything that's a trial living in the most perfect place on the continent. Maybe traffic on Coleman? Not having a dry bathing suit? Having to work a littler harder to keep the Sunday Brunch weight off?) A few of my pieces will be there - but I can't wait to see what the other Southern art girls are creating. Wabi Sabi has a good thing going because they focus on
organic, environmentally sensitive and fair trade stuff. Hand me a kitten and a candy bar and I don't need anything else. Their really pretty blog is here - I'm hoping for a Pinterest page from them soon. (Hint Hint!)
One of the things I love about post-art-show is getting my house and my working space cleaned up. There are usually nails and drill bits scattered all over, paint and brushes in the guest room bath and a general state of disorder.
Though I was scheduled to be in the hammock listening to Dune yesterday afternoon, earlier in the day I'd read an article where an interior designer said a bedroom needs a place to sit "where you put on shoes". Whatever that means. I'm not much of a one for shoe-wearing myself, but I did think to myself that a bench might be just the right thing to occupy some space in my slightly cavernous bedroom.
I had a few pieces of interesting wood I'd been saving for myself - and wouldn't you know it - I didn't have to make one cut with the miter saw for this bench. All of my scraps were exactly the right size. It was meant to be! I'll never sit there to put my shoes on but the cat did enjoy the evening on the sheepskin. Who wouldn't?!
This bench was brought to you by my new variable speed orbital sander. Power tools: Yum.
A few years ago we went to Paris for a couple of weeks
and spent a day at the famous flea markets. When I imagine Heaven I imagine the Clingencourt flea market.
I couldn't bring back all the stuff I really wanted so we spent the day wandering the narrow lanes picking up little bits of stuff. When I got home, I had no idea what to do with all of it but I knew I wanted to look at it on a daily basis. A few weeks before I had ordered two cases of 6"x 6" canvases for some other purpose. As soon as I got them out of the crate, though, I realized the back of the canvas was so much more interesting and had so much more possibility than the front. I Gesso'd them, washed them all with espresso then started stashing my little treasures in them. Taking a cue from Diana Vreeland, I arranged them so the eye has to keep moving. They're attached to a big lattice frame.
And the piece grew and grew...My website says this piece is "Sold" but the truth is it's hanging in my two-story stairway and it looks fantastic there. I can't part with it. And my husband really hates moving it. I have made a couple of these for other people out of their own little treasures. The trick to it is having a balance of materials (wood, textile, paper, metal, glass) and shapes and sizes. And, there have to be at least a few things in there that people will look at and ask "What IS that?" The mystery is important, this won't work if you go at it like a scrapbook. After this one, I stacked the canvases in a double layer and made "The Ukwala" from all the bits I collected in Africa. It usually hangs in my studio but it's on display (and for sale because life is transient!) at Wabi Sabi in Mount Pleasant, SC through the end of August.
What a fun weekend with the Lowcountry Artist Market Saturday morning and a celebratory trip to Muse
where we tried every Italian wine they had by the glass. We had to take a little walk to Christophe
for swans! I've been so consumed with getting my studio set up and making a body of work that I haven't really had time to enjoy summer, so I'm playing catch up. This morning I pickled the abundance of jalapenos that have flourished on my front stoop. I couldn't locate the white vinegar so I used Champagne vinegar. I have no idea what's going to happen, but you can probably guess from fact that the jalapenos are pickling in a beaker that experimenting in the kitchen is just how I roll. More importantly, after a little writing work today I'm going to dig in to Clotilde's new cookbook.
It's been waiting patiently for me for over a month! Other treats waiting for me to stop an notice them - Dune
on audiobook in the hammock (Yes, I'm still catching up with the 80's!), Saturday morning Farmer's Market and subsequent pies, Sunday night picnics at the beach, kayaking Shem Creek, finishing the history of the Medici's and A Food Lover's Guide to Florence
in preparation for our trip this Fall. And - back to yoga! Summer goes so fast. Just a few short weeks and my favorite restaurants will empty of happy, relaxed tourists, the ducks will come back, swimsuits and beach towels will get a final wash and we'll be putting on shoes and socks again. I'm not ready - it's time to make time for all the things I love about the slow, hot days of July and August. Thanks to everybody who came out Saturday - there are some things cooking for later this summer and fall so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, enjoy your days - we don't get an infinite number.
As mentioned, lately I'm fascinated with spectrum. I have a watercolor paintbox that amazes me:
I love the way the colors relate to each other perfectly as a whole and as columns and rows.
I don't know how many hours I spent reproducing the spectrum as assemblage. Maybe fifty? It was ridiculously hard to find things in slightly different shades. I almost stabbed my eyes out. And then dividing the print tray into equal parts so it is as balanced as the watercolor box was really hard. (Check out the Sharpie "notes" in the watercolor box. What a nerd.)
My whole studio blew up as I rooted through everything I had:
But - it was worth it, no?
By the way, my friend Kris brought me the print tray on a day when I was really bogged down creatively. Just having a new blank "canvas" was enough to pick me up. I love her like mad for it. The little things that we do for each other keep the whole damn world from flying apart.
It has been one seriously crazy month. My writing clients are going 100 mph and
I had 20 days to make a body of work for the Lowcountry Artist Market (Saturday! It's Saturday!). The stress didn't come from the hours or the physical work, it came from facing creation anxiety all day, every day. If you do creative work for a living you know what I mean! My bête noir as a writer and artist is the fear that something won't come out the same as it is in my head, so I like to keep my ideas safe and happy up there where they remain perfect and I remain capable and unflawed because I haven't screwed them up yet.
But that isn't how the creative process works. It's a mess! Of course there's a metaphor for life in there, but I routinely have to waste a lot of materials, put layers of paint on only to sand it off again (I hate sanding) and scrap projects all together. This month I had the most amazing found objects bugs in my head but after two days and a lot of wasted materials they just wouldn't come out right. So - that project waits for me to recover from the failure before I can try again.
The intention for everything that I make is to uplift people, to inspire them and to bring some mystery and intrigue back into every day life. When I finish a piece, I need for it to stop (the right) people in their tracks. My favorite phrase is a delighted, higher-octave "What IS all of this?!
" Recently a friend of mine saw "Someday I'll be a Butterfly
" and she said "I don't just like this. I love this."
And she dropped out of group conversation to stand in front of it, wonder and smile. That kind of reaction is everything to me because I want to delight people. That's the point. Even after all these years, I'm scared and excited at the same time for Saturday because I'll get to see in real-time if I succeeded.
Pricing art is a nightmare, just in case you're wondering. At least, it is for artists who believe their pieces are like kittens in that they have forever homes. About 75% of the time I can identify a piece's rightful owner by the look on their face in the first five seconds. Whether it's a CEO or a teenager, for a split second they look like they're five. At that point, because I am also a five-year-old, I'm totally fulfilled as an artist because of the connection and delight - I'm ready to yell "WHEEEEEE!" and just hand it over! But, artists have to pay for shoes and cat cereal just like everyone else. I am very thoughtful about pricing and I pick the lowest price that seems fair to me and still honors the gift of inspiration. It usually turns out that it's exactly the amount the new owner has to buy themselves a little present. Yes, I am just that woo-woo.
Meanwhile, what has been manifesting in this body of work are visual representations of the historical fiction novel I've been working on for a long, long time. The main character is an amateur naturalist who is fascinated with the grey area between science and metaphysics. What I'm seeing in my art resemble his journals, what he finds on his long daily rambles, and the unusual plants and animals that he finds in his world, which is not necessarily our world. In my head his name is "Hoel Onion" and I've had a blast spending time with him this last month.
A couple more late nights of work installing hardware and wrapping everything up nice and snug in bubble wrap and I'll be ready to spend some time with my poor husband. I think he's ready for a break from the constant whine of the orbital sander, the drill and the hours of pounding it takes to nail all those little bits onto hardwood. This piece is "Hoopoe" and it's companion piece is "Sharma". You can see everything going to the Artists Market at FindyThings.
A Study in Sand #1
Assemblage on recycled wood
20" x 20"
I've been doing lots of studies in color spectrum in general but lately I'm especially interested in the neutral color spectrum - which seems so boring, I know! It's like next I'm going to get Velcro tennis shoes and adopt a pair of little white Bichons. BUT - the last year I've been living so close to nature that I can't help but notice how many shades of sand there are, or how many shades of dried palm leaf, or actual sea foam (which is brown here, not green or blue). So anyway, I went wild. I did it. This one and its companion piece, cleverly named "A Study in Sand #2", will be at the Lowcountry Artist Market July 20th. Oh, and I'm going to be 41 on Saturday! That blows my mind. I'm secretly, or not so secretly, hoping that Kate and Wills have that royal baby on my birthday and they name it after me.
Fingers crossed. Seriously though (ha) I've decided to see how much fun I can have in the next year.
It's this year's self-experiment. I'm excited to get started Friday night with wine and cheese at my favorite Charleston spot for wine and cheese - Bin 152
I can hardly wait.
Hubert Astley's Garden
Assemblage on wood
36" x 36"
I've always had an obsession with natural materials. Cotton, beeswax, wood, linen, wool, sea glass, plant fiber, ceramics and paper...I love the contrasts when they come together.
Recently I've discovered the linguistic equivalent. In the early 1900s everybody was a naturalist and everybody was writing books or pamphlets detailing some small part of nature. It's done today as well, but the language patterns at that time are positively decadent. Listen:
"In our garden a pair of robins have tenanted a box which is hung on a nail to the trunk of a large lime-tree in the shrubbery. The box is just low enough for a tall person to see the shining eye of the hen peering over the edge of the mossy nest, and just for once it won't hurt to lift down the box to see its contents. How wonderfully it has been arranged, the moss and leaf foundation compactly pressed within, and the eggs, a clutch of four, lying in the small cup of horse-hair."
I find myself passing over the latest Dan Brown to read this one hundred and thirteen year old book that concerns itself with nothing but the spectacle of a bird landing in a bush, eating a bug, then flying off to rest in the branches of a tall tree. I read one page at a time slowly, the same way I'm eating the juicy in-season peaches from the farmer's market right now. They both capture a perfect moment in time.
I'm haunting the back rooms of used book stores and antique shops looking for turn-of-the-century naturalist books with such intensity that people have started assuming that I work there.
The Language of the Birds
Paper and wool on recycled wood
In my defense, I've been putting a bird on it my whole life - way before they did it in Portlandia
. My first word was "bird". I'm sure my obsession with birds will continue long after people start putting a horse on it or whatever comes next. By the way, the ancient alchemists believed the language of the birds
is magical. Birds! Alchemists! Magic language! That about sums up the book I've been writing in my head for a decade, except the plot keeps coming out as art. This one will be at the Lowcountry Artist Market on July 20th - more sneek peaks at Findy Things.
Lots of fun stuff and moi
at the Lowcountry Artist Market
July 20th. See you at The Music Farm on Ann Street - Charleston, SC. For those of you outside of the Holy City (that's a real thing), yes - I am working on online shopping on FindyThings
. Stand by.